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Music / Slapp Happy

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Left to right: Anthony Moore, Dagmar Krause, Peter Blegvad

"You better watch your step, 'cause sooner or later, You'll find his headless body in a ventilator"
—''"Casablanca Moon"


Slapp Happy were an art-pop/avant-pop band. They were a three-piece band whose line-up included Peter Blegvad, Anthony Moore and Dagmar Krause.

Anthony Moore, the experimental composer from England, in 1971 while in Hamburg united with the American-born Peter Blegvad who was his classmate and whom he invited from England. Blegvad was more pop-oriented, meaning the "out there", oddball brand of pop. Then German singer Dagmar Krause joined their team and the trio made their first album Sort of... Slapp Happy in 1972. Faust were their backup band during the recording. The sound of Sort of... was relatively poppy but already tinged with the avant-garde feel.

Their debut failed to sell and they made something even more experimental in 1973 with Casablanca Moon, which again featured Faust as backup, recorded for Polydor. However, the label rejected it, and instead they rerecorded more sentimental versions of the same songs with an orchestra and Virgin Records released them under the name Slapp Happy. The original recordings were released only in 1980 on an album called Acnalbasac Noom.


Late in 1974 they united their efforts with Henry Cow. The latter were somewhat more avant-garde in spirit qualifying as avant-prog/rock in opposition rather than avant-pop. The joint team released two albums, Desperate Straights (which was halfways between two bands respective manners) and In Praise of Learning, already closer to the pure avant-prog. Both albums were creatively successful and Desperate Straights sold a fair amount.

However as two bands were very different in their worldviews, with Henry Cow being very politically engaged and Slapp Happy quite the opposite, soon they parted their ways. Except for Dagmar Krause who stayed with Henry Cow, also patrticipating in Art Bears. Moore and Blegvad, now orphaned, dissolved the band. Slapp Happy still managed to rerelease the original versions of their songs which later appeared on Casablanca Moon in 1980.


Several reunions happened later, first in 1982 when a one-off single was followed by a one-off show in London. In the early 1990s, Blegvad and Moore wrote an opera for German television, Camera (released on CD some years later), in which Krause played the lead role, then in 1995 the trio recorded a new album, Ça Va, generally thought to show a shift towards adult contemporary and lounge music. Their first serious tour took place in 2000 and produced the Live in Japan album. A further reunion happened in 2016 and featured a concert tour. In 2018 they played several dates with Faust as their backing group.


Tropes and Parvati:

  • Aerith and Bob: Blegvad and Moore.
  • The Band Minus the Face: Averted as Blegvad and Moore did not carry on having lost Krause.
  • Baroque Pop: More like chamber pop.
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: Blegvad, at 6'7", is at least One Head Taller than Moore and Krause.
  • Cameo: Robert Wyatt recorded a live version of the track "A Little Something" with the band.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: Anthony Moore and Peter Blegvad went to the same boarding school.
  • Foil That's what Slapp Happy and Henry Cow are for each other.
  • Genre-Busting: A must for you if you are an avant-pop band.
  • Gratuitous French: In "Mr. Rainbow", somewhat justified because it is dedicated to Arthur Rimbaud.
  • Inherited Illiteracy Title: The very name of the band has "Slapp" instead of "Slap" which is how the expression "slap happy" should be written.
  • Lighter and Softer: Their much later release Ça Va. Earlier albums were not hard but edgy as avant-pop should be.
    • Interestingly zigzagged with their twin releases Casablanca Moon and Acnalsabac Noom. The former, while containing presumedly the later, lighter and softer versions of the same songs was released earlier.
  • Live Album: Live in Japan (2001)
  • Longest Song Goes Last: Desperate Straights ends with "Caucasian Lullaby" (8:15). A particularly pronounced example as most of the other tracks are only around two minutes long.
  • Music Is Politics: Subverted in the case of Slapp Happy which resulted in their split with Henry Cow. whose members were extremely politically engaged.
  • New Sound Album: All of them, really. The self-titled album is chamber pop, Desperate Straights has a strong cabaret influence, In Praise of Learning is Progressive Rock, and Ca Va is synth-based. Even the Live in Japan album counts, as it features stripped-back semi-acoustic trio arrangements. The closest they got to not making a New Sound Album was Acnalbasac Noom, which was rejected and not released until some years later.
  • Overly-Long Gag: The alternative name of their 1980 album - Slapp Happy or Slapphappy.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Henry Cow and Slapp Happy.
  • Reference Overdosed: The band were keen on shout outs, and Blegvad always included many references in his lyrics.
  • Reunion Show: ''Ça Va' in 1998.
  • Rock Opera: Camera, released in 2000.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: They named the 1980's rerelease version of their 1974 album Acnalbasac Noom. Played with because the former album was known as both Casablanca Moon and Slapp Happy.
    • Interestingly, their 1980 Sdrawkcab Name album contains the original raw versions of the songs. The one from 1974 is actually made of re-recordings which the producers of Virgin made them to do because that original material sounded too outlandish for Polydor and probably for them too.
  • Self-Titled Album: At first played with.
    • Their 1972 albums is called Sort of... Slapp Happy.
    • Their 1974 album is called both Slapp Happy and Casablanca Moon.
    • Pushed up to eleven with the first title of their 1980 album which was called Slapp Happy or Slapphappy. Then they turned it into Sdrawkcab Name.
  • Shout-Out: "Mr. Rainbow" is a shout out to the French poet Rimbaud.
  • Title Confusion: Their second album was titled Slapp Happy when it came out, but some later pressings called it Casablanca Moon on the label (without changing the sleeve to match). The album originally released as Slapp Happy or Slapphappy later became Acnalbasac Noom.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Plenties, including "Casablanca Moon" and "Mr. Rainbow".